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Sunday, January 30, 2011


It seems like we always hear the negative things about Hartford Police Officers and I have had numerous conversations with Chief Robert's that HPD does an awful job of public relations.

A perfect example happened this morning, and now that it is posted here it will probably be in a press release, but Hartford officers are doing things like this day in and day out and no one highlights their efforts.

On a Sunday morning when most of us are inside staying warm, drinking coffee and relaxing,others in the City have something else in mind. Two Hartford Police Officers were working a special detail this morning in response to street robberies in the Albany Avenue area.

Apparently something aroused the suspicions of Officers Stephen Pepler and Kevin O'Brien. As they attempted to investigate further, the subject, a 17 year old male took off running to get away from the officers. The officers chased the suspect and during the chase the 17 year old pulled a silver handgun from his waistband. This could have turned into a much different outcome and at one point one of the officers thought that the suspect might be preparing to fire, instead though the suspect threw the gun to get rid of it.

These officers might have ended a one man temporary crime spree through their actions, and these are the things we should be hearing about. This isn't an isolated incident by a couple of "super cops", these are the things HPD officers are doing everyday, day in and day out. Sometimes revolvers, sometimes rifles, sometimes machine guns and in at least one case a grenade launcher.

Instead, many times HPD is portrayed as a bunch of wifebeaters and goons out racially profiling innocent people in the community. Some of that is HPD's doing by not putting information out or stonewalling the media when they inquire, other times it is our polticians grandstanding.

I had a conversation with Councilman Painter about this very subject this past week. I asked him if he knew that Hartford Police Officers had collected hundreds of toys for children across the city who may have had nothing Christmas morning otherwise. It was a great effort spearheaded by police officers, but I heard nothing about it other than talking to officers I knew who told me about it.

That is the type of story that HPD should have gained tremendous mileage off of, possibly on a national level if they only handled their public relations right. Imagine a television crew riding with Hartford Officers as they play Santa, knocking on doors in some of the city's poorest neighborhoods handing out gifts.

It would also serve another purpose as many people might actually see the cops as human beings, and not people to be feared that you only have to interact with at bad times. That is how relationships are built and walls are torn down.

The 17 year old on Albany Avenue might have a different opinion, but his next unsuspecting robbery victim might actually appreciate the HPD's
efforts that we never hear about. It's very unfortunate.


Anonymous said...

Kevin, you are so right on with this. Is there not a reporter assigned to HPD to do coverage on all things related to the department (good and bad)?

Given the perception of our officers by some in this City, it would absolutely have given a boost in the arm of public relations at HPD.

I'm not a fan of "mainstream" media per se, because some use it as a tool to intentionally focus and expose only the negative and never tread into the waters of positivity.

Maybe you could post your blog article in the Hartford News as an "atta-boy" for those officers doing good in the community.



First off, it is not about a reporter assigned to HPD, it is about who is assigned at HPD to work with the media. It is not a 9-5 job Monday through Friday. Don't you think it is odd that Waterbury, East Hartford, Manchester, South Windsor, State Police, just about everyone has a PIO available to return calls around the clock. Not Hartford though. Sometimes I wonder when Lt. Vance from CSP ever sleeps, he seems to be everywhere, all hours of the day and night.

Media relations are a two way street that involves give and take on both sides. That is not the case in Hartford whether at City Hall,HPD or the Board of Education.

I have not taken any of his classes, but Lt. Paul Vance, the Public Information Officer for Ct State Police apparently gives seminars to other PIO's and media people. I have been told that he refers to the media as "the Big Dog". He makes the point that the "Big Dog" is always going to eat, it is up to the PIO's (Public Information officers) as to how he eats. If a PIO feeds the Big Dog he usually goes away happy and content, if the Big Dog doesn't get fed, he will go through your trash to find food and survive. It is usually a much better relationship when the Big Dog is fed because he is not going to be happy or content if he has to go through the trash to survive. I can tell you countless times I have spoke with media people venting over the treatment they get from the PD, City Hall and the Board of Education time after time after time. I don't even go the PIO's at City HAll or HPD because I have plenty of other ways to get info, but a lot more good info should be given out on a regular basis and it would serve everyone much better and probably shine a much more pleasant light on HPD

Anonymous said...

The PD could do a much better job. Here is a fair test: Call the PIO, leave a message (she will not answer) see how long the return phone call takes.

After a couple days draw your own conclusions. Kevin, who do we blame for this? It is obviously tolerataed at the PD. "I have had numerous conversations with Chief Robert's that HPD does an awful job of public relations." well what is the solution?

Jokolok said...

All do respect but you can't participate in the same exact practice that the mainstream media does and then try to call them on it at a later point. It looks like 95% of all Where We Live blog posts have to do with negative stuff. Rarely is there a consistent stream of positive stuff here...and your commentators are even worse.

But, yes, Hartford's HPD does some awesome stuff. We need to remember that cops aren't assholes, people are assholes and some assholes happen to be cops.

Examples of good:

• The cops doing the PAL are awesome. They show these kids the unseen good side of cops. I know one kid who has been so affected by his experience in the Police Athletic League that he is about to graduate from Bulkeley High and is hoping to make law enforcement a career. More power to him.

• A branch of the HPD also recently subsidized an entire days worth of food around Thanksgiving at the Red Rock Tavern where anyone could come in (no questions asked) and eat at no cost. It was a great day for alot of people.

To the comment re: the media. The Hartford Courant has one person whose sole responsibility is to look at the Police wire and do quick paragraph reports that then go online. Htfd's Police Dept continually updates their wire so we provide the most food for fodder. Keep in mind that a City of 125k people will provide a couple more incidents then the surrounding towns. This goes along way to help create the image of a lawless city which most of us know is b.s.


anonymous at 3:55 pm;

I have learned that when someone starts their comments off by saying "with all due respect" it usually means that they are about to insult you.

So.... with all due respect, I have no clue what you are talking about and by your comments, neither do you.

The "police wire"? I think you have been watching too many re-runs of dragnet or adam-12. There may have been a "police wire" back in the 1930's when teletypes were used, but it is different now. Shift supervisors file "unusual incident' reports when it is required. Some unusual incident reports are checked off for media distribution, some aren't. For the media to have to get the reports, they need to go into Jennings Road and look at them or if they are lucky to get an accomodating "XO" (that stands for Executive Officer, he sits right next to the police wire machine) the XO may read to them unusual incident reports that they feel are worthwhile. Otherwise you can wait for the PIO (not to be confused with the XO by the police wire machine) to come in during regular business hours.

As far as the PAL program you speak of, to the best of my knowledge there is not currently, nor has there been a PAL program for some time. Chief Roberts is currently trying to re-start the program and Lt. Hightower has been assigned to make that happen.

There is no "branch" of the Hartford Police that provided food to anyone. You are speaking of the Hartford Guardian's, a fraternal organization of black police officers at HPD led by SGT. St.Johnwho went out and raised the funds and food donations to be able to offer the Thanksgiving Dinner.

My understanding is that the Guardians also were the group that spearheaded the toy drive.

And I'm not sure if there is a correlation, but if as a city we have a higher incidence of crime, shouldn't we also have a higher percentage of good news also based purely on the population numbers?

Finally, I know not of this "where we live" blog you speak of, but thank you for visiting and commenting on "we the People" blog

Anonymous said...

Your PAL info is off the mark. It is up and running already. Look for those assigned to lucrative PAL positions to be those who work the most private jobs next year. This info should have been put out on the police wire machine.

Anonymous said...

"As far as the PAL program you speak of, to the best of my knowledge there is not currently, nor has there been a PAL program for some time."


The Police Athletic League is very much in existence and has been for some time.


"There is no "branch" of the Hartford Police that provided food to anyone. You are speaking of the Hartford Guardian's, a fraternal organization of black police officers at HPD led by SGT. St. John"

[Branch: a division of some larger or more complex organization]

Sounds like a branch to me.

Anonymous said...

with your contacts, you probably hear a milliion of this kind of story. It's great you printed this; maybe we'll hear more?

Anonymous said...

Well done Mr. Brookman! Once again in your zell to be that person who uncovers HPD failures, you potentially affected an on-going police investigation by not only discussing a police strategy to combat the problem, but also by identifying by name those officers who are involved! Way to go. I am sure that is exactly the type of recognition these officers wanted!

Anonymous said...

What about the press release HPD did concerning the bike unity tour, and the officer who rode a bike for cancer all over the State or the officers who held a Thanksgiving dinner for thse in need. Those are just the stories off the top of my head that I remember. I also hear about their community efforts all the time on TV and on the radio. Kevin, while I like the idea behind your blog, I think you are way off base hear. HPD does a great job with public relations. In fact, sometimes I get too many emails from them.


Anonymous at 5:03pm:

First off, I think I attempt to portray HPD in a positive light more often than I do the negative, and I don't create either situation, they do it themselves.

Second, please explain to me the secrecy of this operation I destroyed. Two uniformed police officers on patrol at 10:00am on a Sunday morning in a fully marked cruiser. Is that some unusual secret strategy? And as far as identifying the officers? Got to and review the daily arrest log and you can see every arrest made along with the officers names for everyday of the week. I would imagine these officers got more praise today for a job well done than any criticism.

And I'm not quite sure how many seventeen year old gun toting thugs read "we the people" to see what the latest "secret police strategies" are before they hit the streets looking for their next victim.

And very few people address me as "Mr.Brookman", one that does though is someone that should be very knowledgeable on this subject.

Good try, but also keep in mind that nothing on the internet is really anonymous, you might want to try using an e-mail address without an ip address that comes back to LEVEL 3 COMMUNICATIONS as the internet service provider for the City of Hartford and, that goes for the "anonymous" comment directly after this one at 5:14pm. And you spent 28minutes and 7 seconds on the blog posting your comments? Working late today?

Anonymous said...

I figured whoever posted as anonymous at 5:14 had to work for the city because there's no way in hell anyone with half a brain could say HPD does a good job at creating a positive public image.

I actually laughed when I first read that comment.

Anonymous said...